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Shop Talk Tuesday with Pamela Ehrenberg

Okay, how long have I been doing these interviews, a year? (And yeah, I know, I seriously need to update my questions.) Anyway, after all those interviews, I have a first. Today’s author, Pamela Ehrenberg, was brave enough to send a photo demonstrating a past hair-don’t! So let’s give it up for Pamela, who is the author of the young adult novel, ETHAN, SUSPENDED, (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers,) and the forthcoming TILLMAN COUNTY FIRE, about two kids who set fire to a classmate’s house in an anti-gay hate crime.


So welcome, brave Pamela! Grab some coffee, get comfy in the beautician’s chair, and let’s get down to the gossip.

When’s the last time you’ve treated yourself to a manicure?

My wedding, seven years ago.

What hair styling product can you not live without?

A turquoise wool hat that I bought at a craft shop in Salt Lake City. Although whoever made it might not have guessed it would end up in Washington, DC, I imagine she might have understood the value of plunking on a large woolly hat when racing out the door with a two-year-old. In any case, my hat has simplified my hair-care routine immensely.

Good trick! Okay, what kind of hairstyle did you have in middle school?

I think they called it mid-80s frizz. Most shocking of all is the fact that I learned to use my computer’s scanner entirely for the purpose of forwarding you the attached 1986 yearbook photo.


Aw, I’m touched you learned how to scan for us! And yes, kids today don’t know how lucky they are to have frizz-serums and techno-hair gels. Honestly! Also, if you’re wearing a ruffled shirt and prairie skirt in that photo, then I think I have the exact same one. 😉

Time for your Hypothetical Questions of the Week:

HQ #1: For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?

That would be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read the Little House books about a hundred times each when I was in elementary school, and I was allowed to stay up late on Monday nights to watch the TV show. A few years ago I insisted we detour two hours from a wedding in St. Paul so I could see Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthplace in Wisconsin. It turned out to be a “reproduction” log cabin on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Highway, three miles from the Laura Ingalls Wilder gift shop, but it had its own magic nonetheless.

HQ #2: You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?

Ten hours of babysitting, a venti green tea latte, and Metro fare to a Starbucks in a different neighborhood.

HQ #3: Paparazzi are stalking you, looking for shots of odd things authors do while writing. What do they catch you doing, hmm?

Turning on an electric sound machine, the kitchen fan, and, in occasional moments of desperation, a hair dryer, to lull my toddler into a deep sleep so I can get some writing done. (Hmm, a toddler who falls asleep to the lull of a hair dryer–I think she’s got more of a salon-oriented future than her mom does!)

HQ #4: If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?

Actually, this is exactly what I wanted to be doing when I was in high school. I wasn’t quite brave enough to admit it, but others had a sense. In twelfth-grade English, a boy I barely knew wrote an essay on what we’d all be doing by our five-year reunion and suggested that I’d have just published my third best-selling novel, titled Arctic Lust. So I’m about twelve years and one novel behind schedule, and woefully unknowledgeable about polar bear pornography, but still I think he was pretty close, considering.

The Lightening Round—no more than two words per answer!

Do you . . .
Sell by proposal or completed draft?
Completed draft
Love to edit or cringe at the thought? Love it
Prefer writing a new book or marketing the old? Writing
Write better at home or in a coffee shop? Anywhere where there’s no danger of accidentally setting off a flashing, beeping Fisher-Price toy. Oops, that was more than two words. Coffee shop.
Read your released book or no thanks, I’ve read it enough? No, thanks!

And finally, what’s your favorite . . .

Time to write? During preschool
Movie? I just got Netflix for my birthday, so right now my favorite is whatever’s next in my queue.
Author? Anne Tyler
Pair of shoes? Whatever I’ve just kicked off

Thanks for stopping by, Pamela, and for sharing that photo with us! And hey, it’s not too late to start writing that Artic Lust . . .

And here’s more gossip on ETHAN, SUSPENDED:

After getting suspended from school, Ethan Oppenheimer is uprooted from his comfortable suburban life in Pennsylvania and sent to live in Washington, D.C., with grandparents he hardly knows. At Parker Junior High, he stands out as the only white student. Making friends there is difficult; fitting in, impossible. It doesn’t help that his overprotective grandparents expect him to live their old-fashioned, frugal lifestyle. As he tries to find his way in this new world, Ethan also struggles with issues from the world he left behind — guilt about the events surrounding his suspension, anxiety about his parents’ separation, loneliness for the company of his family and friends.

Slowly, Ethan adjusts. He makes a few friends; he joins the jazz band and learns a new instrument; he even gets used to dried-out dinners at 4:30 pm. Along the way he learns a lot about prejudice and acceptance — and about himself and his changing family situation.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Pam February 6, 2008, 9:28 pm

    Thanks so much, Laura! I really enjoyed talking with you and am looking forward to hearing good things about your next book!

    (Oh–sorry to disappoint, but I’m fairly certain it was stirrup pants, not a prairie skirt, I wore with that blouse in the yearbook photo. A prairie skirt probably would have caused me to trip and go sprawling across the aisle of the school bus.) : )

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